Wrangling Brazen Sharks

The Brazen Shark

Last year, I announced that I’m updating and releasing new editions of my Clockwork Legion novels. Today, I’m proud to announce the release of the second edition of book three: The Brazen Shark. This novel picks up right where book two left off. Ramon and Fatemeh have just married and their friend, a one-time pirate captain Onofre Cisneros, has swept them off for a romantic honeymoon in the South Pacific. However, once they reach Hawaii, a British agent makes Cisneros an offer he can’t refuse and the captain must travel to Japan. Wanting to see more of the world, Ramon and Fatemeh ask to accompany the captain only to find themselves embroiled in a plot by samurai who steal a Russian airship, hoping to overthrow the Japanese emperor.

Of all the Clockwork Legion novels, this was arguably the most challenging one to write. Whereas the first two novels were set in locations I know well, this one is set largely in Japan and Russia. I had to do quite a bit of research to make sure the culture and settings felt right. I had several beta readers who knew the novel’s places and cultures. They helped me check my research and my assumptions. In the end, I was pleased with the result. Robert E. Vardeman, a Hugo-nominated author and recipient of the Western Fictioneer’s Lifetime Achievement Award wrote the following: “Airships battling! Samurai fomenting war with Russia! Historical characters and powerfully drawn fictional ones mixing it up with political intrigues make David Lee Summers’ The Brazen Shark a steampunk novel not to be missed. Put it at the top of your reading list. Now!”

Although this is book three in the series, I did strive to write this so it could stand alone. In fact, Robert E. Vardeman wrote his review blurb based on this book alone. He hadn’t read any of the earlier novels. So, if a story about a one-time New Mexico sheriff and a Persian healer teaming up with one history’s greatest chemists to combat samurai air pirates sounds like a fun ride, you can jump right in. That said, you can learn more about the series at: http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#clockwork_legion

The chemist of the story is Dmitri Mendeleev, best known for his work developing the Periodic Table of the Elements. Historically, Mendeleev did dabble in airship design and, in fact, went up in a hot air balloon to observe the solar eclipse of 1887. In the Clockwork Legion series, he’s responsible for designing the Russian airships. Other historical figures who appear in the novel include Katsu Kaishu and Okubo Toshimichi who were important figures in Japan’s Meiji restoration. What’s more Katsu Kaishu was a naval engineer, so the novel’s steampunked alternate history allowed me to imagine him unleashing an array of innovations on the world, including the mechanical man on the novel’s cover.

The Brazen Shark is available as follows:

Owl Dance Update

I hope my readers in the United States are having a good Thanksgiving weekend. I’m spending the weekend with family and reflecting on those things I’m thankful for. One of the things I’m thankful for has been the opportunity to work with some great publishers and editors over the years, such as Sky Warrior Book Publishing who published my Clockwork Legion steampunk series. Sky Warrior connected me with some great editors, gave me excellent marketing tips, and generally supported my efforts as an author. Still, after some discussion this fall, we decided it was to our mutual advantage for Sky Warrior to return the publishing rights to me. We’re parting ways, but I’m thankful that we’re parting ways as friends.

Owl Dance

The new edition of the first book in the series, published by Hadrosaur Productions, is now available. The new edition hasn’t changed much from the previous one. The paperback edition has a spiffy new layout featuring some cool-looking separators designed by Laura Givens. Laura also remixed the cover slightly to make it a little brighter. I only gave the book a cursory edit, looking for any minor copyedits that might have been missed. Partly that’s because the wonderful audiobook edition read by Edward Mittelstedt is still available and I don’t want to revise the text so the audio and text don’t match. I hope to make the new edition of Lightning Wolves available in about two weeks.

Owl Dance is set in 1876. In the novel, Sheriff Ramon Morales of Socorro, New Mexico meets a beguiling woman named Fatemeh Karimi of Persia, escaping oppression in her homeland. When an ancient lifeform called Legion comes to Earth, they are pulled into a series of events that will change the history of the world as we know it. In their journeys, Ramon and Fatemeh encounter mad inventors, dangerous outlaws and pirates. Their resources are Ramon’s fast draw and Fatemeh’s uncanny ability to communicate with owls. The question is, will that be enough to save them when a fleet of dirigibles from Czarist Russia invades the United States?

Richard Harland, author of some of my favorite steampunk novels, including Worldshaker and Song of the Slums, says, “Owl Dance has everything. Airships, owl-ornithopters, a clockwork wolf, a multiple alien entity, a fast-shooting sheriff, a Russian plot to conquer America, and a very sexy, eco-aware, Bahá’í Persian healer-woman – I mean everything! Heaps of fun!”

If you’ve already read and enjoyed Owl Dance, thank you for your support. If you haven’t discovered the series yet, this is a great time to start. As I say, the new edition of the sequel, Lightning Wolves will go live in about two weeks. After that, it’ll probably be about six weeks before the final two novels are published, since I need to finish some editing and layout work on two new Hadrosaur titles from Greg Ballan and Lyn McConchie.

You can purchase the paperback edition of Owl Dance at Amazon.com.

The ebook edition is available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.

Edward Mittelstedt’s reading of Owl Dance is available at Audible.com.

The book should be appearing at more vendors soon. You can see a book trailer and find all the places where the book is available at http://www.davidleesummers.com/owl_dance.html

San Francisco Airships

Frequent Tales of the Talisman contributor Douglas Empringham recently sent me a newspaper article detailing airships of the nineteenth century from California’s San Francisco Bay Area. You can read the complete text of the article at sfgate.com.

The first project the article mentions is one proposed by Rufus Porter in response to the California Gold Rush. Given the challenges of getting to the gold fields, he proposed creating an “Aerial Locomotive” that could carry passengers and cargo from California to New York.

Porter Airship

The image above is from an 1849 pamphlet advertising his idea. As it turns out, Porter actually did complete a 700-foot long prototype of his design, but rowdy visitors tore open the hydrogen bag during a Thanksgiving Day display before it could be launched. The next person in the Bay Area to attempt to develop an airship was publisher and editor Frederick Mariott who built the Aviator Hermes Jr. You can read more about this airship and see some great images at http://www.flyingmachines.org/marav.html. There’s even a poem by Bret Harte written in honor of the airship!

What struck me about Mariott’s design, besides being very steampunk, is that it was propelled by four small alcohol-burning steam engines. These are very close to the kinds of steam engines I imagined for the Russian airships in my Clockwork Legion series. Of course, in reality, the alcohol-burning engines were a bit too heavy and a bit underpowered to be effective propulsion in the prevailing winds around San Francisco. In the Clockwork Legion series, the Russians overcome this largely by having larger gas bags that can lift slightly heavier and more powerful engines.

I hope you’ll take a moment to learn about my two Clockwork Legion steampunk novels Owl Dance and Lightning Wolves. I’m currently working on the third novel in the series, The Brazen Shark. Finally, speaking of Tales of the Talisman, the art director just delivered the autumn issue’s illustrations. I’ll be working on the layout this upcoming issue. Although this upcoming issue doesn’t have a story by Douglas, he will be back in the winter issue.